“Isn’t God Wonder-ful?”

A Letter from Jim and Jodi McGill, serving in Niger and South Sudan

September 2019

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Hello family and friends,

Three-quarters of this year have passed, and it has been one of our more challenging years with family separation, disappointments and a few failures. It is wonderful to write when everything is going smoothly, but just like everyone we experience the lows in addition to the highs. So what to do in a period of lows? What to do with disappointment and failure?

During the year we have been reminded that we are not alone when we are in Niger, in South Sudan, or in the U.S. We are with our brothers and sisters in the Church, as well as brothers and sisters who are in the Mosque, as well as with brothers and sisters all around the world. One thing that has been made clear is that our sisters and brothers are a support to us during all times, and especially when there is trouble, and disappointment, and failure.

Since our arrival in Niger, the number one priority handed to me (Jim) was to get a well drilled at the EERN Bible College at Dogon Gao. All students attending Bible colleges must be self-reliant for food, which means that they must grow their own food for sustenance during the time that they are attending the school. At Dogon Gao, there is ample land available for crops, but the school year does not sync well with the growing season for Niger. Therefore, students must be able to irrigate their crops if they are to be able to attend the Bible college. There was a large (10 foot diameter) hand-dug well that supplies water for the domestic needs of the college, but it was not enough for students, faculty and staff. As students’ ability to attend the school was dependent on an increase in water supply, the well is critical.

Gracious donations were received to drill the well, but the funds were insufficient to be able to both drill the well and to complete the pump and water distribution method necessary for the Bible college community. The EERN WaSH Department began looking for local and international organizations to partner with to be able to complete all the works needed. There are Christian organizations that do support local churches like the EERN with their development issues that include drilling of boreholes, so the EERN wrote letters and made office visits to apply for this partnered assistance. One of these organizations partnered with a hospital within five miles of the Dogon Gao Bible College to drill a community well that would relieve the hospital from supplying that community with water. Sadly, protocols prevented us from fitting into their drilling schedule, so a drilling rig came and went within the proximity of the Bible college but with no well drilled. Disappointing.

After several months of unanswered requests, the WaSH team decided to use existing funds to hire a local driller with a small rig. Although a risky decision, if the driller was successful, it would allow the installation without waiting longer for outside assistance. A borehole was drilled to the maximum depth recommended for this rig (around 140 feet) and although it produced water, we found out later it was not quite deep enough to produce the amount of water necessary to match the demands from the College. Disappointing.

There were other unexpected challenges as well. I am working with Mr. Amos Moise Hamidou, an engineer with the EERN who has established a vocational training center in Dogondoutchi, in between Niamey and Maradi. Amos has a lot of technical experience in boreholes, pumps and water supply infrastructure. As afternoon became evening, while we were working at the college, it began raining heavily. We were using Amos’s personal vehicle and he wanted to avoid problems that come up with these very violent and heavy rains. So, we rushed away to make sure we would reach where we were staying in Maradi, about 20 minutes away from the college. I was staying with mission co-workers Michael and Rachel Ludwig and family, and just two blocks from their house, Amos drove into a deep hole that was filled with rainwater and killed the engine. I was quite distressed by this misfortune, but Amos laughed and said, “God is great! We ran from the rain to make sure we would make it here, only to find the problem was here, and not there. Isn’t God wonder-ful?” (as in full of wonder)

After a delay of two days in Maradi repairing the car, and upon our return to Dogon Gao, we realized that yield of the borehole would not meet the needs of the college. So again, I am thinking how depressing this all is, using gifts given in support of the people of Niger and specifically for this borehole at the Bible college just to see our attempts come up short. But Amos then again said, “Ah, but God is wonder-ful.” He had some knowledge that there was a partner that could help us with this situation. Amos had been hired by Campus Crusade to install the supply system for a well near Niamey and knew that Campus Crusade was funding two wells near Maradi. He had just heard that the aquifer at one of those well sites was too deep without hiring a rig that was beyond the funding that they had available. So, Amos called Campus Crusade, and it seems that the parameters needed for drilling at the Bible college allow them to work with us to provide a more productive well.

It can seem trite to say that all things will work out for the good, especially when we live in our time and see people’s suffering and unmet needs. But how often, if we are patient, do we see God working out the things that frustrate and disappoint us in our time? Amos, one of our brothers here in Niger, is one of many here from whom we have so much to learn.

The nursing school is scheduled to open the first week of October and Jodi is so pleased to have some locum teachers available to teach almost half of the classes. The school has two laptops donated from PC(USA), one of which has been designated for the library catalog use. Jodi and a colleague attended a three-day training on how to register the books and documents, and there are two librarian students coming to catalog the books and EERN-CADR reports. Jodi has also been able to make arrangements with a local businessman who has a shop that sells items from the U.S. to buy space on his containers, so items like mannequins, anatomical models, books, and equipment could be sent here several times a year. Now she just needs to find some sources of the equipment. Please let her know if you have some ideas and contacts for any nursing or midwifery practical teaching equipment, posters, etc.! So, after many delays and beginning year three of this nursing school path, again, God is wonder-ful.

Thank you for continuing to support and pray for us as we pray for you.

Jim and Jodi McGill and family

Please read this important message from Sara Lisherness, interim director of Presbyterian World Mission

Dear friend of Presbyterian Mission,

Greetings in Christ! As the interim director of Presbyterian World Mission, I am grateful to have the opportunity to thank you for your continued support of PC(USA) mission co-workers.

The enclosed newsletter bears witness to some of the many ways in which God is at work in the world through long-standing relationships between global partners and the PC(USA).

These partnerships are nurtured and strengthened by the presence of mission co-workers in over 40 countries; you are an important part of this partnership too, as you learn about and share how our church is involved in global ministry; as you pray for our partners and mission co-workers; and as you take action to work with others for God’s justice, peace and healing.

I write to invite you to continue joining us in partnership in three ways. First, your prayers are always needed. Please pray that God will continue guiding the shared work of the PC(USA) and global partners as we engage together in service around the world. Pray, too, for mission co-workers, that they may feel encouraged in the work they are doing under the leadership of global partners.

Second, please consider making a year-end gift for the sending and support of at least one mission co-worker. There is a remittance form at the end of this letter and an enclosed envelope so that you can send in a special year-end gift.

Finally, I encourage you to ask your session to include one or more mission co-workers in your congregation’s mission budget for 2020 and beyond. PC(USA) mission co-workers’ sending and support costs are funded by the designated gifts of individuals and congregations like yours; your gifts allow Presbyterian World Mission to fulfill global partners’ requests for mission personnel.

Faithfully in Christ,

Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness
Director, Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry
Interim Director, Presbyterian World Mission


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